supplements 02.27.09
supplements 02.27.09

Oscar night has a few Jewish winners

Despite “Waltz With Bashir’s” loss on Oscar night, a few Jewish-themed films (and one Jewish actor) did take home golden statues.

“Spielzeugland (Toyland),” a 14-minute German film that took four years to make, won for best live action short film. The film tells the story of a young German boy, Heinrich, whose Jewish best friend is being deported with his family to a concentration camp. When Heinrich’s mother tells him his friend is going to “Toyland,” Heinrich decides to follow him.

“It was a story I really wanted to tell — a film about ignorance, truth and the history of my country,” director and producer Jochen Alexander Freydank told Moving Pictures magazine. “Shooting this film was one of the most rewarding experiences in my film life.”

Kate Winslet won the best actress award for her role in “The Reader,” in which she plays an illiterate former SS concentration camp guard whose teenage lover is unaware of her Nazi past. Some observers have panned the film for trivializing the Holocaust.

Also in the acting categories, Sean Penn won best actor for playing Jewish San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay public official in California. Penn himself is Jewish on his father’s side, though he was raised secular and considers himself agnostic.

During the ceremony, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was presented to Jewish comedian Jerry Lewis, in recognition of his philanthropic efforts to aid people with muscular dystrophy. — jta